[Sheet Music]

Lesson 148: Composition/ Songwriting: Co-Writing

On Co-Writing

Co-writing is very "in" these days. It is not exactly a new thing, it has been done since a lot of the so-called Standards repertoire of jazz was written but nevertheless...

Different Methods of Co-Writing

  • one person writes the harmony - the other supplies the melody
  • one person writes the harmony and the melody - the other person the lyrics
  • you write different sections of the tune, one of you writes the A section - the other the B section
  • you work together on the whole tune, each one of you contributing ideas and material
  • you jam/ improvise together and come up with a tune that way

Why Should You Try Co-Writing?

  • When it works, it gives very good results
  • You get tunes that no one of you would have been able to write by himself/ herself
2 brains are a lot more than 1. And when co-writing is successful you may even find that 1 + 1 is not equal to 2, but rather at least 3 or 4.

How to Get Started

  • Just get together with a bandmate, a colleague, a friend or even a stranger ( or several) and start writing together.
  • If you have trouble finding someone to co-write with, check out hitRECord. hitRECord is an online collaborative production company where you can collaborate and work together online with people from anywhere in the world. You can upload a piece of your own work and others can add to it and make it into something else or you can work with stuff that other people have uploaded. *
*) I just joined hitRECord myself and uploaded some of my own stuff there - you can check out my page here.

Some Examples from My Own Work

  • Alternative Lifestyle - I wrote the melody and the chords, Kalle Teir wrote the bass line
  • The Beauty Inside - I wrote the melody and the chords, Kalle Teir wrote the bass line and an intro
  • Carnival ( Let's Go Bananas) - I wrote the melody and had the original ideas, Kenneth Nordman wrote the the bass line of the B section and did some editing of the C section
  • A Different World - I wrote the melody and the chords, Kalle Teir wrote the bass line
  • How Can Less Be More? - co-written by me and Jenny Lundström
  • I Didn't Get the Blues - recorded and made up on the fly by me and Kenneth Nordman
  • Innocent Mental Mood - I wrote the A, B and C sections but I wanted a final D section, which Stefan "Kilju" Lindblom wrote
  • Lighthouse - I had the chords, Tom Forsman improvised the melody
  • Natten och vägen - Stäni Steinbock had an A section and needed a B section, which I wrote
  • One Man One Song, Part II - I had the chords, Tom Forsman improvised the melody
  • Pick Me Up! - I wrote the music, a female writer I met on hitRECord wrote the lyrics
  • Pointless ( Bedroom Jam) - me, my brother Patrik and one of our friends jammed in my brother's bedroom ( two guitars and a bass) and came up with this together
  • Q.L. the Goofy Cat - Revisited ( The 4th Movement of The Q.L. Suite) - I had an A section and needed a B section, which Stäni Steinbock wrote
  • The Sixth Sense - I wrote the intro/ interlude/ outro riff and the harmony, Tom Forsman wrote the melody
  • Ska vi - co-written by me and Jenny Lundström
  • Slow Life - my ex-wife drew a melodic contour and I wrote a melody that followed that
  • A Tango - co-written by me and Jenny Lundström
  • The Tide - co-written by me and Kenneth Nordman
  • Zwölf Uhr - the inspiration to write a 12-tone tune came from Stäni Steinbock and the rhythm of the bass line is one we came up with together, the rest is written by me

My Own Comments

I have done much too little co-writing in my life - out of the 150- 200 tunes that I have written, only about 15- 20 are the result of co-writing. I would very much like to do more co-writing and lately I have become very interested in it and decided to try to do more of it.

I have tried to co-write with 9- 10 musicians/ people: Tom Forsman, Patrik Kraufvelin, Stefan "Kilju" Lindblom, Jenny Lundström, a female writer I met on hitRECord, Minna-Maria Mäenpää, Kenneth Nordman, Stäni Steinbock, Kalle Teir and hopefully I will soon co-write something with Mats Granfors, with Bob Russell and with Barbora Xu.

One very interesting thing is worth pointing out. The person you co-write with does not necessarily have to be a musician. It may lead to very good results to co-write with someone who doesn't even sing or play an instrument. It is more than enough if that person can write good lyrics, for example, or has good ideas for a tune.

When co-writing you should always share the credit evenly. If you are 2 persons and you have written something together, the ratio should be 50/50, if you are 3, it should be 33/33/33.

Pat Pattison on Co-Writing

Here is a small article Pat Pattison wrote on co-writing. Pat Pattison teaches Lyric Writing, Poetry and Songwriting at Berklee College of Music.

© 2015 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.